The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), reports that “birth defects affect one in every 33 babies (about 3% of all babies) born in the United States each year,” and is also “the leading cause of infant deaths, accounting for 20% of all infant deaths.” Kidshealth.org explains that birth defects occur when babies have problems while still in the womb that affect how their organs and body parts work or turn food into energy.
There are two main types of birth defects:
- Structural – When a baby is born with a missing or malformed body part. Examples of structural birth defects are heart defects, spina bifida, cleft palate, club foot, and congenital dislocated hips.
- Functional – When there is a problem with the way a body part or body system functions or works. Examples of functional birth defects are: Down syndrome, blindness, hypothyroidism, and muscular dystrophy.
While not all birth defects are preventable, it is important to make healthy choices while pregnant to decrease the chances of having babies born with these health conditions. The CDC suggests the following PACT to get healthy before and during pregnancy:
- Plan Ahead– Get 400mcg of folic acid daily and see your healthcare professional regularly.
- Avoid Harmful Substances – Avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and be careful with harmful exposures at work and home.
- Choose A Healthy Lifestyle – Eat a healthy diet, be physically active, and work to get medical conditions like diabetes under control.
- Talk with Your Healthcare Provider – Get a medical checkup, discuss all your medications both prescription and over the counter, and talk about your family history.
If you are pregnant or thinking about starting a family, you may schedule an appointment at any of our convenient Primary Medical Care Center community clinics by visiting our website at www.primarymed.com or call (305)751-1500 for our Miami-Dade clinic or (954)289-0000 for our Broward clinic.